Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations
Rome contains a vast and impressive collection of art, sculpture, fountains, mosaics, frescos, and paintings, from all different periods. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
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It may seem obvious to see Rome as the best place to explore the legacy of this ancient civilization. After all, it was this city which saw the birth of Roman life and it was from here that the Roman world expanded into Empire and ruled over millions. Yet due to its very significance this famous city suffered far more than many other regions when the Roman world finally collapsed. The center of Empire was lost, sacked, reconquered, fragmented and pulled apart over the centuries, leaving many of the most stunning Roman architectural achievements in ruins. However, that’s not to say there aren’t still a great many Roman wonders to explore here, quite the opposite. Some of the most famous sites – such as the Colosseum – are truly spectacular, but the very best remnants of Rome to be found have a little more effort to be made – sites such as Ostia Antica, San Clemente, Trajan’s Markets, the Baths of Caracalla and Hadrian’s Villa represent just a few of these incredible places.
Rome first became a major artistic centre during ancient Rome, with forms of important Roman art such as architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. Metal-work, coin die and gem engraving, ivory carvings, figurine glass, pottery, and book illustrations are considered to be ‘minor’ forms of Roman artwork. Rome later became a major centre of Renaissance art, since the popes spent vast sums of money for the constructions of grandiose basilicas, palaces, piazzas and public buildings in general. Rome became one of Europe’s major centres of Renaissance artwork, second only to Florence, and able to compare to other major cities and cultural centres, such as Paris and Venice. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the city was one of the centres of the Grand Tour, when wealthy, young English and other European aristocrats visited the city to learn about ancient Roman culture, art, philosophy and architecture. Today, the city is a major artistic centre, with numerous art institutes and museums.
With so many sights and things to do, Rome can truly be classified a “global city”
Today, Rome has a growing nightlife scene and is also seen as a shopping heaven, being regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world (some of Italy’s oldest jewellery and clothing establishments were founded in the city).
Situated on the river Tiber, between the Apennine mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the “Eternal City” was once the administrative centre of the mighty Roman Empire, ruling over a vast territory that stretched all the way from Britain to Mesopotamia.
Architecturally and culturally, Rome has some contrasts – you have areas with pompously huge majestic palaces, avenues and basilicas which are then surrounded by tiny alleyways, little churches and old houses; you may also find yourself walking from a grand palace and tree-lined elegant boulevard, into a small and cramped Medieval-like street.
The abbreviation “S.P.Q.R” – short for the old motto of the Roman Republic Senatus Populusque Romanus (“The Senate and People of Rome”) – is ubiquitous in Rome, being also that of Rome’s city council; a humorous variation is “Sono pazzi questi romani” (these Romans are crazy).
Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC. Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. It is referred to as “The Eternal City”, a central notion in ancient Roman culture. In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization.
Rome’s history spans over two and half thousand years, which have seen its transformation from a small Latin village to the centre of a vast empire, through the founding of Catholicism, and into the capital of today’s Italy.
Rome is traditionally said to have been founded by the mythical twins Romulus and Remus (the sons of Mars and Rhea Silvia) on 21 April 753BC. The twins were abandoned as infants in the Tiber river and raised by a she-wolf (Lupa) before being found by a shepherd (Faustulus), who raised them as his own sons.
The Roman Empire • Locations & Activities